Gerald McRaney in Tornado Warning (2002)

It's Getting Stormy

Scientist Dr. Jake Arledge (Gerald McRaney - Take Me Home: The John Denver Story) has dedicated his life to creating an accurate storm warning system but it has come at a cost as not only did his wife die in a tornado but his daughter Dee (Thea Gill) has become estranged because of his determination. In fact Dee has become a roving weather reporter for a TV channel and one of those who is a sceptic when it comes to the system especially after a few public embarrassments when his system has failed to do what he says it would do. But a former friend of Dee's, Mark Scott (Steve Braun), has fixed the fault in the software and now it works. Unfortunately far too many people don't believe Dr. Arledge and so with the system pointing of a major twister about to hit the town of Two River Bend he has an uphill battle to convince the residents especially Mayor McAnders (Joan Van Ark) who refuses to postpone the town's pageant.

I can foresee dodgy special effects and some familiar scenes. I didn't need some fancy computer to make that prediction because having watched many a storm chaser movie I could predict what would appear in "Tornado Warning". And I was right because "Tornado Warning" featured plenty of storm chaser movie cliches from the daughter who witnessed a parent killed in a storm to the narrow miss when Jake and Mark take shelter in a storm shelter and we witness the tornado track right over the rapidly shaking doors. On the subject of which we also have those dodgy special effects, the sort which you should expect from a movie made for TV.

Thea Gill in Tornado Warning (2002)

But then "Tornado Warning" had something I didn't predict and that was more plot than you normally get from this sort of movie. That doesn't mean to say it isn't predictable or clever but at least we have elements built together from an estranged daughter and father to previous flaws in the system causing others to be sceptical of Dr. Arledge's warnings. On top of that it even builds in to a bit of typical disaster movie as we have the town's mayor refusing to heed Arledge's warnings because she doesn't want the town's pageant to be stopped.

That leads me to the acting and I had never realised how much Gerald McRaney sounded like the Duke, not just in tone but also in his phrasing. Unfortunately "Tornado Warning doesn't call for a great deal of acting from any of the cast but McRaney at least tries to put some character in to his routinely written character. Elsewhere there is some seriously over the top acting from the likes of Joan Van Ark and David Millbern although you get a sense that they were asked to play over the top to try and give the movie some humour, it didn't work as they end up painfully corny.

What this all boils down to is that "Tornado Warning" isn't some great storm chaser movie but in truth I don't think anyone who sits down to watch this TV movie would expect anything more than an average one at best. But compared to some of the mindless storm chaser movies out there this one has at least a storyline which combines various cliches rather than just sticking to one.